I was doubled over with laughter before finishing I Eat Poop. It is the story of a dung beetle who is ashamed to admit, to his friends and classmates, that not only does he eat poop, but he loves it—it's in his genes! When he finally confesses this secret he is met—as he feared—with laughter and teasing, until another bug pipes up with a strange revelation of their own, and another and another. Turns out all his classmates have... unique appetites. This book has a dark humor that will appeal to children and adults alike; it's this humor, coupled with its sweet message (differences make us special!) and reference to fascinating science facts that makes this book a must-read. -Emma N.
The story of a brother and sister, estranged, but brought together by a bequeathment: a house on chicken legs. Thistlefoot is a rollicking road trip story, as entertaining as a vaudeville show. But a house like Thistlefoot is not without its burdens. Nethercott's tale demands its readers reckon with the past, reminds us that history has a tendency to repeat itself, and asks us to consider the stories we tell, the memories we hold tight to. -Emma N.
I devoured In the Dream House like a child lost in the woods come upon a candy cottage; I read greedily and did not heed the witch. Using a trove of tropes to frame each chapter—dream house as haunted mansion, dream house as star-crossed lovers— Machado examines domestic abuse from all angles, giving voice and sharp edges to a reality often swept under the rug. As she did in Her Body and Other Parties, Machado exhibits her skill at manipulating form, at weaving a story that both astonishes and terrifies. But this time the story is her life, the hall of mirrors her home, the monster her partner. -Emma N.
Karen Reyes is a precocious ten year-old growing up in 1960s Chicago. Her mother is sick, her brother is dodging the draft, and their upstairs neighbor—an enigmatic Holocaust survivor named Anka—was just murdered. As Karen steeps herself in the past and tries to solve Anka’s murder (think Harriet the Spy meets Maus) the life she’s been avoiding continues to unravel. Using B-movie horror and monster pulp magazine imagery, Karen records everything in her spiral-bound notebook, weaving an unnerving and engrossing tale with illustrations both gorgeous and grotesque. You’ll want to pore over these pages to ensure you don’t miss a thing. -Emma N.
An utterly charming picture book that explores a year in the forest in four chapters (to match the four seasons), from the perspective of Little Witch Hazel. She goes on a myriad of adventures (including raising an owl; exploring a mysterious, haunting noise; and returning library books), but she spends most of her time helping and caring for her friends. This cozy picture book is perfect for all seasons and all ages. -Emma N.
This lovely little book is full of advice for couples, engaged, married, or otherwise; my favorite is printed right on the cover: "The way you stay married is simple: don't get divorced." Calhoun may think her toasts inappropriate to give, but I found them frankly sincere in their acknowledgement of the inescapable fallibility of humans. Relationships are hard! Sometimes you'll want to throw things. To begin a marriage/ partnership with this in mind, I think, will make those moments easier to bear, to know it doesn't mean the relationship is wrong or broken. Would recommend to anyone preparing to walk down an aisle. - Emma N.
Nightbitch, a fable of motherhood and metamorphosis, is a primal scream of a novel. Motherhood is often seen, even idealized, as a sublimation of self; Nightbitch reminds us that mothers are individuals, capable of fierce love for their children and anguish for the changes motherhood has wrought on their lives. Yoder normalizes the riot of emotions endemic in motherhood with a howl that is equal parts joyful and disconsolate. -Emma N.
The View Was Exhausting feels, at first, like the equivalent of bringing a copy of Us Weekly to the beach; set in a variety of exotic locales, it focuses on the on-again, off-again relationship between film star Whitman ("Win") Tagore and playboy Leo Milanowski. Except the whole relationship is a farce, a PR ploy whipped out anytime Win needs help maintaining her public persona—which, as a woman of color working in Hollywood and walking a tightrope of contradicting expectations, is often. Come for the romance that's as stable as a pyramid of champagne glasses, stay for the incisive commentary on race, privilege, and celebrity. -Emma N.
A compelling story of two siblings—one a politician, the other a high-end wedding planner—struggling under the expectations of society, their (absent) revolutionary mother, and their past selves. Through these singular characters, Olga Dies Dreaming grapples with broader issues of class, colonialism, capitalism, and cronyism. This book, which I enjoyed so much I read it over a single weekend, will be as comfortable on a beach blanket as on a college syllabus — it engrosses and educates in equal measure. And it made me laugh out loud. -Emma N.
How do you choose between faith and safety? How do you protect yourself from the only world you’ve ever known? The Mennonite women of Molotschna attempt to answer these questions after their lives are torn asunder by repeated assault. But, while the situation is disturbing, the conversation is far from hopeless. These women—incredibly resilient, keenly intelligent—will remind you of the simple power of women talking.
You may not expect a winding, plotless novel about a medieval nunnery to be utterly engrossing, but it is. Irreverent and amusing, Townsend Warner’s nuns are political, petty, and rather lacking in piety.
The first book in an epic quartet about a small group of friends attempting to end a twenty-year war. The best way I can describe this series is engulfing. It is a rain-soaked field as often as it is a warm hearth. It will enflame, it will soothe. It is one of those books that is both dark—concerning war, a land under siege, a society demolished—and full of hope—showing a community reimagined and rebuilt. It insists its characters question their beliefs, their driving forces, and do what’s right no matter how difficult. Also, it’s perfect for fans of Avatar the Last Airbender.
Our culture’s increasing obsession with productivity and efficiency is driving us slowly insane. How to Do Nothing proposes a cure: take back control of your attention, practice sustainability, view maintenance as progress. Odell has reframed the way I see the world and my place in it; more importantly, she has made me feel equipped for whatever comes next.
This comic is like your favorite sitcom where nothing much happens but you find yourself constantly rewatching and laughing your head off. Giant Days is a hilarious, disturbingly accurate depiction of university life and post-adolescence, but enjoyable no matter how far (or close) you are to your school years.
A guide to bringing magic into the home that is as beautiful as it is useful. Feldman, a witch and owner of the Salem, MA shop HausWitch, offers pages of suggestions for bringing comfort, protection, and balance to your home.
A fascinating anthropological study on Neo-Pagans, Wiccans, and witches. Written in the 70s, revised in ‘06, and still surprisingly relevant and revealing. If you’re drawn to paganism or looking for a better understanding of the movement, this is a great place to begin.
Eschewing genre or classification, these stories hop from gothic horror to sci-fi to magical realism in a swirling, extraordinary feat of invention. Link’s talent is awesome—by the original definition—inspiring both great trepidation and admiration. Once you read this, you’ll want to read every story Link has ever written.